Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Ambiguity, Confusion, Contradiction, and License of Universal Church Practice

Catholic means universal.  The Catholic church came out of an allegorical, neo-platonic interpretation of scripture, convenient to amillennialism.  The Reformers protested a chunk of Catholicism, not all of it.  Among some other doctrines, they kept catholicism itself.  They kept a state church mentality too.

Protestants almost exclusively believe that the true church is a universal, invisible entity made up of all believers.  Not surprisingly, of those rejecting the state church, of those remaining separate, Baptists, believe that the only church, so the true church, is local only.  It's an assembly.  Some Baptists consider themselves Protestant, and they're usually also the professing Baptists who believe that the true church is universal and invisible with a local church being a mere visible manifestation of the true one.

It's easy to understand how that local only ecclesiology works itself out in the real world.  God is one.  Nothing in the Bible denies anything else in the Bible because it's God's Word --- when the doctrine is true, that's how it works.  This is not how universal church doctrine works.  You will die by a hundred paper cuts of contradictions.

I come to this subject today because of reading a post entitled, "Should Bible colleges have women serve as chapel speakers?"  "Chapel speakers" is careful wording, because it was reported (I didn't listen or watch) that she preached, it seemed like.  I'm not really attempting to make a point about women preachers at this point.  Setting aside whether she was preaching or not, a big question or discussion about this was "is it OK for the woman to preach in chapel, since that's an educational institution and not church, and such?"

She could preach because it isn't a church and those restrictions about preaching relate to the church.  But what is the church?  Well, in this case the church is local.  That allows women preachers in the educational context.  On the other hand, training preachers in the educational institution can come because the true church is all believers.  Preachers are being trained in the universal church, of which the Bible college or university is a part, unless a woman is preaching, at which point it's an educational institution.

You actually get the same kind of discussion about separation.  You can bring in speakers you otherwise wouldn't have in your church, because of separation, to your college or seminary, because that isn't a church, being that at that point it is an educational institution.   I bring you the universal church, which makes this all possible.  You train preachers there because of the universal church and you don't separate because it is an educational institution.

If you like music and you're really good at it -- maybe not good enough to earn a living playing it in the world -- you could play it in the universal church in a Christian concert.  Christians will pay you to come and worship in the church, the universal church.  It might not be something the pastor of the church approves of, but it's hard to question whether it is worshiping God in the universal church.  You might even feel more unity there than you do in your own church with the breakdown of denominational lines and such.

The universal church justifies a lot out there.  It also causes a lot.   There are so many holes in the universal church that it can easily allow unsaved people -- ironically -- almost requires it.  Many overlook doctrine because keeping unity in the church, the catholic one, is necessary.   The universal church has room for continuationism, amillennialism, rock music or sacred, long skirts or short ones, infant sprinkling or adult immersion, etc.  Don't get me wrong, there are certain things that the local church and the universal church sometimes can't put up with, like King James Version only.  Both "churches" can get picky about that.  Maybe not women preachers or chapel speakers though.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology, pt. 4

The last comment under the last post in this series read:

It was interesting - a friend and I were discussing how to live a victorious Christian life, and it reminded me of viewing this blog post earlier today. I'm a little confused though; are there not practical steps to living a victorious Christian life? I know there isn't a "second blessing," a feeling, or something like that. But it is also clear that not all (or even most) Christians, who are truly saved, live a spiritual Christian life. Instead, they live carnally, or Laodicean-like at best. What is the key to being an overcoming, spiritual Christian?

All Christians will live a victorious Christian life.  Many places in the New Testament say that, but I'm reminded of 1 John 5:1-5:

1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world.  It's a guarantee.  Overcoming characterizes the Christian.  Romans 8:28-30 promises it.  Everyone God justifies He has predestined to conform to the image of His Son.  This is the message of Jesus at the end of every one of His messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3.  People who are saved will have victory.

The problem today is that there are many, many unconverted people in churches, because they have heard a false gospel that either did not present scriptural faith or a biblical Jesus.  They can't live a victorious life because they are not born of God.   The person has no victory because He does not have the love of God in his heart.  This is a test of faith.

The comment itself smacks of second blessing theology.  The anonymous comment person said he didn't believe in second blessing theology, but he manifested his second blessing theology when he said that most Christians do not live a spiritual Christian life.  He divides Christians into carnal Christians and spiritual Christians.  There are no carnal Christians, only spiritual ones.  The carnal Christian doctrine was popularized in 1918 by Lewis Sperry Chafer in his book, He That Is Spiritual, that was then eviscerated by B. B. Warfield in 1919.  No Christian will live in a perpetual state of carnality, waiting for a higher life or second blessing or the baptism of the Spirit or fresh oil.  He has everything he needs the moment he is justified.

He also talks about a Christian being Laodicean.  That's another marker of second blessing and keswick.  Those at Laodicea were unsaved.  That church is an apostate church.  The "lukewarm Christian" is another "carnal Christian" that is part of the second blessing theology.   Lukewarm is not referring to a saved person, but someone who is most likely never to be saved.  God spews him out of His mouth.  Language like lukewarm and backslidden and these types of terms have become the currency of keswick and second blessing. They explain "Christians" who very likely are not Christian.  The Bible doesn't explain these people as saved, but they are labeled so by this new theology.

In 2 Corinthians 12:21-13:10, the Apostle Paul reveals requirements of sanctification.  When someone is sinning, he should repent.  If he doesn't, he should be disciplined.  When he is disciplined, he should submit to authority.  If he won't, then he should examine himself as to whether he really is a Christian.  The goal, however, is someone not doing evil, but doing right without anyone having to discipline.  Paul didn't want to do that, but he would if they wouldn't repent.  If Christians are doing right, then they don't need to repent and won't need discipline.

Through the new covenant, a believer already has victory through the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will experience that victory through obedience, by just doing right.  Doing right will characterize his life, because that is the nature of the grace of God.

Paul teaches in Romans 7 and 8 that sanctification is a struggle against the flesh.  If you are going to point to anything as a "key" in sanctification it is mortification (Romans 8:13; Colossians 3:5).  A tremendous, old work on this is by John Owen, entitled, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers, and I recommend every Christian to read it.  It's tough sledding, but if you go slow, it will be tremendous edification.  It is simply Owen's fine exegesis of the applicable passages in Romans.

********************

I decided to deal with the "carnal Christian" issue here in the main text and not the comment section.   The title of Chafer's book, He That Is Spiritual, comes from 1 Corinthians 2:15, and this is where Chafer gets it wrong, I believe, under the influence of Oberlin, where he graduated and where Finney had been long time president, and that of Scofield (read Mark Snoeberger's journal article, including the footnotes).  Chafer divided people into three categories:  the natural man, the carnal Christian, and the spiritual Christian.

Chafer fails in that 1 Corinthians 2 presents two categories of people, the natural man and the spiritual man.  The natural man of 1 Corinthians 2 and the carnal man of 1 Corinthians 3 are the same person.  The natural man in 2:14 is psuxikos, a person controlled by himself, by his own soul (The -ikos ending says "controlled by" or "pertaining to" or "characterized by").  The natural man is in control of his own life and destiny.  The spiritual man, 2:15, is pneumatikos, so the Spirit controls him.  These are the unsaved person and the saved person respectively.

So, in chapter 3, Paul says he could not speak to them "as" unto spiritual, really referring back to the spiritual man of chapter 2, but plural, spiritual men.  He's saying he couldn't talk to them like they were saved people, that is, people who could understand spiritual things.  "But" (alla, strong contrast, on the contrary) "as" carnal (sarkikoi, people controlled by the flesh).   Paul couldn't talk to them like they were saved, but like they were unsaved.  Paul is talking to Christians, so he says, "as."  If he was actually talking to the so-called carnal Christians, he could just say, 'speaking to carnal Christians,' not "as."

He also says "as babes in Christ."  He is talking to Christians, but "babes" doesn't have to be a Christian.  It isn't in Hebrews 5 and in Galatians 4.  It doesn't universally mean "saved person."  Paul isn't creating a category of carnal Christian.  He isn't differentiating the two like they are two types of Christians.  These Corinthians are behaving like unsaved people.  He's having to talk to them like they are unsaved.

Parallel with this is Romans 8:5-9:

 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Is the carnal in this text a Christian?  Of course not.

With that being said, Paul is talking about position.  Every saved person still has the flesh, so he can behave carnally.  He isn't carnal, but he can obey his flesh and not the Holy Spirit.  Practically, he isn't living spiritually.

Some reading, I'm sure, would ask, "So what's the difference?"  The difference might seem minor, but it isn't.  There is no category of carnal Christian.  Christians sin.  That's not spiritual.  That's fleshly.  However, it doesn't mean that there are those two categories of Christians, meaning that there are three natures for people and not just two.  When we're saved, we receive a new nature and the old nature is gone.  We still have the flesh, but we aren't natural or carnal anymore, speaking of position.

In keswick or second blessing theology, the carnal Christian is the Christian who accepted Jesus as Savior, but hasn't been dedicated or hasn't received Jesus as Lord of his life.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bible Truths for Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), part 8; SDA rejection of the succession of true (Baptist) churches, SDA Allegorization of Biblical Prophecy, and a Conclusion to the Whole Matter

14.) The true church has existed from the first century until today, since Christ promised: “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18), and “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). God would get “glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Eph 3:21). Because of the promises of God, the church has preserved pure worship and practices, based only on the Bible (2 Tim 3:16-17; Deut 12:32), since Christ founded her, and her Savior will preserve her until He comes again (1 Cor 11:26). Consequently, Roman Catholic “churches” cannot be Christ’s true churches because they deny His gospel and are filled with all kinds of heresy; furthermore, no churches believed many of the doctrines of modern Roman Catholicism for centuries after the Lord Jesus started His church.[1] Protestant “churches” cannot be Christ’s true churches because they teach unbiblical doctrines and did not exist for the first 75% of church history.[2] Seventh-Day Adventist “churches” cannot be Christ’s true churches because they deny the true gospel, are filled with many false doctrines, and did not exist for the first 90% of church history. In contrast, Baptist churches have believed and practiced Biblical truth in its purity and have existed from the first century until today, preserved for 2,000 years by Jesus Christ, their Founder and Head. Known under different names through the centuries, martyred, tortured, and persecuted by Catholicism, Protestantism, and the other false religions of the world, Baptists have gone under different names through the centuries, such as Waldenses, Donatists, Cathari, and Anabaptists. Non-Baptist historians have admitted that the Baptists are not Protestants, but far predate the Reformation, having existed even from the times of the Apostles: “If the truth of religion were to be judged by the readiness and boldness of which a man of any sect shows in suffering, then the opinion and persuasion of no sect can be truer and surer than that of the Anabaptists since there have been none for these twelve hundred years past, that have been more generally punished” (Cardinal Hosius (Catholic, appointed president of the Council of Trent, A. D. 1560).[3] “The true origin of that sect which acquired the name of Anabaptists, by their administering anew the rite of baptism to those who came over to their communion . . . is hid in the remote depths of antiquity, and is consequently extremely difficult to be ascertained” (Mosheim (Lutheran).[4] “[The Baptists] descended from the tolerably pure evangelical Waldenses. . . . They were, therefore, in existence long before the Reformed Church . . . We have seen that the Baptists, who were formerly called Anabaptists . . . were the original Waldenses; and who have long in the history of the Church, received the honor of that origin.  On this account the Baptists may be considered the only Christian community which has stood since the Apostles; and as a Christian society which has preserved pure the doctrine of the gospel through all ages” (Dr. J. J. Durmont & Dr. Ypeig (Reformed).[5] Concerning the pre-reformation Baptists known as the Waldenses, even Ellen White admitted: “In lands beyond the jurisdiction of Rome, there existed for many centuries bodies of Christians who remained almost wholly free from papal corruption . . . they continued to regard the Bible as the only rule of faith . . . of those who resisted the encroachments of the papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost . . . Theirs was not a faith newly received. Their religious belief was their inheritance from their fathers. They contended for the faith of the apostolic church.[6]

[Note: the text below is footnote #6 in the pamphlet, but was placed here in the text proper because of its relevance.]

Mrs. White, however, also claims that the Waldenses were Saturday worshippers. This assertion, however, is simply false, and blatantly so—all objective historians recognize that they worshipped on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day. Indeed, even SDA historians concede this fact. Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., late professor of church history and theology at the SDA Andrews University, who wrote his doctoral thesis on the history of Saturday and Sunday worship, admitted:

Did some of the Waldenses observe the Sabbath? I . . . search[ed] for an answer in the . . . scholarly volumes . . . published . . . [by] the official Italina Waldensian publishing house . . . regarded as the most comprehensive history of the Waldenses. To my regret, I found no allusion whatsoever to Sabbathkeeping among the Waldenses. . . . The same search for historical evidences of Sabbathkeeping among the Waldenses has been conducted by other Adventist scholars. . . . Unfortunately . . . no connection to Sabbathkeeping [has been found]. . . . [T]here are . . . inaccuracies in The Great Controversy that ought to be corrected. (Endtime Issues, 87, August 1, 2002)

In fact, historians recognize that “the Waldenses . . . observed no other day of rest than Sunday; whence they were named ‘Insabbathas,’ regarders not of the Sabbaths.” (pg. 25, History of the Ancient Christians Inhabiting the Valleys of the Alps, J. P. Perrin). Hence, their enemies testified that the Waldensian belief was: “[W]e are to cease from working on no day except the Lord’s day [Sunday] (├ćneas Sylvius, c. A. D.  1300, cited on pg. 241, Some Remarks upon the Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont, P. Allix).

The Waldensians also believed in the conscious bliss of the saved and conscious torment of the lost, rejecting the SDA doctrine of “soul-sleep.” In the words of the Waldensian Confession of Faith, dated A. D. 1120: “[W]e believe that after this life, there are only two places, the one for the saved, and the other for the damned, the which two places we call paradise and hell” (Article IX, cited on pg. 378, The Waldenses: Sketches of the Evangelical Christians of the Valleys of Piedmont, A. W. Mitchell). The ancient enemies of the Waldenses recognized: “According to them, there is no purgatory, and all that die, immediately pass either into heaven or hell” (Reinerius, c. A. D. 1200). “The souls of the deceased are[,] [confess the Waldenses,] either immediately plunged into hell, or advanced to eternal joys” (Roman Inquisition, c. A. D. 1300; see pgs. 32, 45, The History of the Christian Church, from the Birth of Christ to the Eighteenth Century, Including the Very Interesting Account of the Waldenses and Albigenses, vol. 2, W. Jones).

The Waldenses rejected the SDA doctrine of salvation by works, professing instead the Baptist and Biblical doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone apart from works. In the words of the Catechism of the Ancient Waldenses for the Instruction of their Youth, Composed in the 13th Century: “[T]hat foundation . . . by the which every one may enter into life . . . [is] [t]he Lord Jesus Christ . . . By what means may a man come to this foundation? By faith, as saith St. Peter, 1 Pet. 2:6, ‘Behold, I lay in Sion a chief-corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.’ And the Lord saith, ‘He that believeth hath eternal life.’” The Waldensian Catechism goes on to affirm the eternal security of the believer based on his eternal election: “[A]ll the elect of God, from the beginning of the world to the end, by the grace of God through the merit of Christ, [are] gathered together by the Holy Spirit, and fore-ordained to eternal life” (cited from pgs. 379-381, The Waldenses: Sketches of the Evangelical Christians of the Valleys of Piedmont, A. W. Mitchell). The Waldenses still held the Baptist and rejected the SDA doctrine of sin and salvation a few centuries later when they confessed their belief in the total depravity of the sinner, in justification by grace alone through faith alone, totally apart from works, and in eternal security:

[A]ll the posterity of Adam is guilty of his disobedience, and infected by his corruption, and fallen into the same calamity with him, even the very infants from their mothers’ womb, whence is derived the word of original sin. . . . [T]he Lord having fully and absolutely reconciled us unto God, through the blood of his cross, by virtue of his merit only, and not of our works, we are thereby absolved and justified in his sight . . . his blood . . . cleanses us from all sin. . . . [W]e are united with Christ, and made partakers of all his benefits by faith, trusting and confiding wholly to those promises of life which are given us in the gospel. . . . [A]ll the elect are upheld and preserved by the power of God in such sort, that they all persevere in the faith unto the end. (pgs. 387-389, ibid)

Historians recognize that “the Waldensian formularies . . . hold . . . the doctrine of justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone . . . and of the final perseverance of the saints” (pg. 375, ibid). The Waldenses were Baptists, not Seventh-Day Adventists.

[End of footnote #6.]

Seventh-Day Adventism rejects Christ’s promise of church perpetuity by affirming that “Satan has taken full possession of the churches.”[7] Christians who are not SDAs are “are worse than heathen . . . savages.”[8] The truth supposedly needed to be restored by the SDA movement in the 19th century. SDAs allegorize and misinterpret the book of Revelation to conclude that the first and second angelic messages of Revelation 14 were being fulfilled in 1844,[9] and now in the SDA movement the truth was “restored to the last true church,” with the “seal of God” of the Sabbath and the “second distinguishing mark” of “the Spirit of Prophecy”[10] in Mrs. White’s writings.

[The text below is footnote #9 in the pamphlet.]

Nobody who simply read Revelation 14:6-12 would conclude that the passage speaks of events in the 1840s in the eastern United States. They are self-evidently about actual messages given by actual heavenly angels. However, Mrs. White and the SDA movement allegorize an “angel fly[ing] in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” to not really be about a heavenly angel flying with a message for every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, but about William Miller and his 1844 predictions of the end of the world that far less than 1% of the world ever heard about, and which reached practically none of the nations, kindreds, tongues, and people of the world. For that matter, the SDA movement only gets its crucial 1844 date by allegorizing and misinterpreting Daniel 8:14. The prophet Daniel predicted the “two thousand and three hundred days” between the time that the Jewish High Priest Onias I was murdered and a false line of priests assumed power in 171 B. C., events that culminated in the desecration of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, and the death, 2,300 literal days later, of Antiochus Epiphanes in 164 B. C. However, the SDA movement claims that the “days” are not really days but are years, a period of years which ended on “the great Day of Atonement . . . in the year 1844 . . . upon the twenty-second of October” (Pg. 400, The Great Controversy, Ellen White), even though the Day of Atonement in 1844 was not even on October 22 but was on September 23 (cf. pg. 25, A Jewish Calendar for sixty-for Years, detailing the new moons, festivals, and fasts . . . together with the corresponding Christian Dates, 1838). SDAs also deny the plain meaning of Daniel 8:14 by claiming that the verse is not about the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem but is an allegory concerning events in Christianity.

Contrary to the allegorization of prophecy practiced by the SDA denomination, Biblical prophecies are always fulfilled literally. The Bible predicted Christ would be born in Bethlehem, and He was born in the literal city of Bethlehem (Mic 5:2; Lu 2:4-7). The Bible predicted Christ’s virgin birth, and He was born of a literal virgin (Is 7:14; Mt 1:23). The Bible predicted the Messiah would enter Jerusalem sitting on a donkey, and Christ entered Jerusalem sitting on a literal donkey (Zech 9:9; Mr 11:7-11). The Bible predicted that Cyrus, the Persian king, would let Israel return from exile and rebuild Jerusalem, and that is literally and exactly what happened (Is 44:28; Ezr 1:1ff.). The Bible predicted that Jericho would be rebuilt by a man who would have his eldest son die when reconstruction began and his youngest son die when the work reached completion, and that is exactly what happened (Jos 6:26; I Ki 16:33-34). About 2,000 Biblical prophecies have been fulfilled literally in this way. There is no reason to allegorize predictions about the future in the book of Revelation and make them “predict” something other than what they actually say. Biblical prophecies that have already taken place have been fulfilled literally, and those about the future will also be fulfilled literally. The SDA denomination actually has adopted its allegorical, non-literal method of “interpreting” Bible prophecy from the interpretive system of Roman Catholicism, and must maintain it, despite its destruction of the actually predictive character of prophecy, because of the “inspired” statements of Ellen White.

[End of footnote #9.]

            Dear Seventh-Day Adventist friend, have you received the gospel? Now is the time for you to receive salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. This very moment you must turn from your sin and trust in Jesus Christ alone. He will save you and give you eternal life. You can know you are saved from your sins and from damnation; you can have genuine communion with the living God and a truly holy life based on grace and love, not legalism and self-effort; and you can know God will keep you saved so that you will be certain of a blessed eternity in heaven, not eternal torment in the lake of fire. “[B]ehold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2). Nothing could be more important: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mr 8:36). Trust Christ immediately!
            God also calls on you to separate from the false religion of Seventh-Day Adventism and unite yourself to a true church of Christ (Heb 10:25). Joining a true church will not save you from any sin—“the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7)—but God also calls His people to be true worshippers (Jn 4:23), and they obey because they love Him (Jn 14:15; 1 Cor 16:22). The Lord commands you to separate from all false religion: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph 5:11). “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor 6:17-18). Today is the day to separate from Seventh-Day Adventism and to begin to worship God in Biblical purity.

For more information, including evidence that the Bible is the Word of God, or for a free home Bible study, available in person or by mail, that explains more about salvation and other Biblical truths, visit, call, or write to:



http://faithsaves.net
http://mukwonagobaptist.org

Faithsaves.net has special resources dealing with evidence for the Bible and for creation to help atheists, agnostics, and others skeptical about Scripture, as well as material specifically for Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians and other Reformed believers, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other non-Trinitarians, Seventh-Day Adventists and other Sabbatarians, Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and members of other religions.





[1]              See “Bible Truths for Catholic Friends,” http://faithsaves.net/different-religions/.
[2]              See “Bible Truths for Lutheran Friends” and “The Truth of Salvation for Presbyterian and Reformed Friends” at http://faithsaves.nhet/different-religions/, and “Bible Study #7: The Church of Jesus Christ” at http://faithsaves.net/Bible-studies/.
[3]              This Catholic cardinal, living at the time of the Reformation, admitted that the Baptists had been around since A. D. 360. Allowing them an origin any earlier would make his position very uncomfortable.
[4]              Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, III. 200.
[5]              Ypeij en Dermout, Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche Hervormde Kerk. Breda, 1819.  The three quotes above are reproduced from History of Baptists, J. T. Christian, vol. 1, chap. 7, http://faithsaves.net/ecclesiology/.
[6]              Pgs. 68-69, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, Ellen White.

[7]              Pg. 189, Spiritual Gifts, vol. 1, Ellen White.
[8]              Pg. 334, Manuscript Releases, vol. 17. Mrs. White also advocated SDAs conceal their view that Christians are worse than pagan savages: “[W]e consider them heathen. In truth they are worse than heathen, but this we are not to tell them,” because it would “close up the way before us” and make people less likely to convert to the SDA denomination. Contrast 2 Cor 4:2.
[9]              This footnote has been placed in the main body of the text.
[10]            Pg. 222, The Story of the Seer of Patmos, Ellen White.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology, pt. 3

When you compare a historical, biblical view of sanctification with forms of second blessing theology, what are the differences?  People usually want to know the practical results of whatever belief one takes, and that's understandable, but it is also often a trap, because the first difference is that one is biblical, that is, it obeys God, and the other one doesn't.  They can't both be true.  The Bible presents one way, not a buffet of various choices.

Many who believe in some form of second blessing theology likely do not know that there is some other view.  It's all they've ever heard.  However, it isn't the historic and biblical view.  If I were to characterize the forms of second blessing, they would be either a perversion or misunderstanding of the eras of miracles, making them normative for today.  To understand the difference though, we should first consider the historic view.  The following is the gist of it.

A man has one nature only, first born with a sinful one.  When he is converted, however, the old one passes away and he receives a new redeemed nature, united to Christ.  He still has the flesh, human fallenness found in his not glorified body.  A Christian struggles with his flesh, the fallen impulses that yet remain in his body.  His old nature is crucified and new nature now reigns in his inner man, giving him a desire for righteousness.  Sanctification is the mortification of sin while at the same time learning practical righteousness.  He must reckon himself dead to sin and alive to God, meaning he should count his old nature as dead, having a new nature in Christ and cooperating with what the Holy Spirit is doing in him through the Word of God.

It's tough to write an exact second blessing description, because there are varied forms of it, as I've said.  Technically, second blessing says sanctification begins at one's justification but is perfected afterwards at a single moment.  John Wesley taught this, which later Charles Finney adopted.  One nuance involves what some will call "baptism of the Spirit," in which someone is given new or greater power or even more of the Holy Spirit.  It involves steps.  Step one accepts Jesus as Savior.  Two comes with a decisive moment of surrender to Christ as Lord, which effects victory over sin and attainment of a higher level of Christian living.  The second step might be where he stops being carnal. In my experience, he doesn't ever need to stop being carnal, but can skip straight from one to three, which is glorification.  If lordship comes in, it's in step two, and this is a complete surrender where someone starts getting success over his sin.

Historic Christianity says sanctification is a struggle and is a gradual, day-by-day process, and second blessing is a modern innovation, that is a decisive post-conversion act of surrender to a higher life of spiritual living.  If someone is looking for the latter as a biblical point of view, he's going to have trouble.   At most, he'd have to be a Charismatic, which would say that the sign gifts were for today.  The Charismatic movement doesn't look like the Bible, but the revivalist version of it brings some sort of powerful experience that falls even further short of biblical sign gifts.

A historic, biblical Christian believes he isn't missing anything.  He's going to struggle.  He already has the victory in Christ, but he needs to cooperate with what the Holy Spirit is always doing.  He isn't going to get any more power than what he already has, because He has all of it.

The second blessing in most cases is always looking for some higher level of Christian living.  He might call it revival.  After he's saved, he's got to act in any number of ways to get there.  By behaving in a moral way, he can help himself along to get there.  He can exchange a certain kind of dedication to get more spiritual stuff.  God doesn't just give it to him, but he buys it by praying more or fasting more or aligning himself with more moral standards.

An irony to second blessing, as I've witnessed it, is that the power gotten as a second blessing isn't the reason for the growth.  The growth justifies it.  The growth says that he must have more power. However, the growth comes from man-made, man-designed techniques used to manipulate people.  Then when the strategies or techniques "work," they say that this came because of the power.

Another example of the last paragraph is the use of architecture and music and preaching style, even color.  They cause an environment, a feeling.  People want a feeling.  They say it's the Holy Spirit, but it is in line with ecstasy, an excitement.  The speaker calls it unction.  At the end of the sermon, music and emotion are used to get these decisions that are what second blessing is all about.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Please Stop

"Please Stop" is going to be a periodic series of posts in which I talk about things that I wish would stop.  I'll get back to my series about second blessing theology later.  My family and I are on vacation.

"Please Stop" could apply to a lot of different areas, but I'm mainly going to deal with cultural, ecclesiological, theological, and spiritual issues.  The beauty of "Please Stop" is that I can write about whatever it is that I want, as much or as little.  I won't come back unless something has motivated me to do that.

Obviously, I could say, "Christian" boys wearing skinny jeans, please stop, and maybe I will, but that's not primarily where I'm heading with this series.  Once some of you start to read, you might be saying, "Please stop 'Please Stop.'"

Churches that put superficial, very shallow lyrics to either carnival music or Texas honky tonk, Please Stop.  I spent 45 minutes deciding where we would stop for church on the road.  What makes it tough?  You want a scriptural sermon, actual Bible preaching.  There is more than a 50% chance that you won't get that an independent Baptist church today.  The doctrine and practice of the church is important to me.  So we did all we could do to stop for worship on a Sunday night.  The pastor is sick.  He couldn't preach so he invited a friend to entertain his congregation.  I could describe to you what I saw, but it was the epitome of disrespect to God.  It centered right on men, what would please them.  The body language is all about "look at me."  Please Stop.

The word "celebrate" with church.  Please Stop.  I drive by a church with a banner for Easter.  It says to the world "celebrate the resurrection with us."  I saw this for a reformed Baptist church.  Who in the community, that isn't already going to church, is actually going to celebrate the resurrection?  Is this something you do on the spur of the moment?  And what is "celebrating"?  Where is "celebrate" in the Bible.  We celebrate our birthdays and anniversaries, but this word "celebrate" makes church sound like a party.  A party is what people in the world want church to be.  Everyone wants a party.  But celebrate?  Please Stop.

One more.  Ironic t-shirts.  I dream of a world without the t-shirts with the ironic statements.  Let's get serious before we get ironic.  The epitome of cleverness purchased by someone who isn't clever. Don't make baklava your first course when you can't boil a potato.  Please Stop.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Bible Truths for Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), part 7: SDA rejection of the Lord's Day for Saturday Sabbath Worship and its Teaching that Worship on the 1st Day is the Mark of the Beast

13.) The true church recognizes that the church and Israel are two different institutions. Not a single one of the 2,300 references to Israel in the Old and New Testaments equate Israel with the church, while the Jewish people are specifically distinguished from the church as two different entities (1 Cor 10:32). The Sabbath was a special sign for the Jewish nation (Ex 31:13, 17) that was first made known to Israel after the nation came out of Egypt (Neh 9:13-14; Eze 20:10-12). There is no proof whatsoever in the Bible that Abel, Noah, Job, Abraham, or any other godly person kept the Sabbath before the days Moses brought Israel out of Egypt. Indeed, Scripture specifically indicates that the covenant that included the Sabbath was not made with the patriarchs, but only with Israel in Moses’ day (Deut 5:3, 12-15). Salvation is not by a sinner’s obedience to the Sabbath or to the rest of the ten commandments, but by faith alone in Christ’s cross-work (Rom 3:28). The law condemns, not saves, which is why 2 Corinthians 3 explicitly states that what was written on “tables of stone” (v. 3), the ten commandments, were a “ministration of death, written and engraven in stones” (v.7), and are “done away” (v. 7, 11, 14) and “abolished” (v. 13).  The NT is clear that “the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners” (1 Tim 1:9). The law does not empower believers to live holy lives—they are holy because they are led by the Holy Spirit and are free from the law: “If ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal 5:18, 23). The NT explicitly states that the Sabbath was a type of the believer’s resting from his own works and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. It contrasts entering into God’s rest by faith alone with the failure of the Jews to receive true Sabbath-rest, because they did not rest from their works and trust in the Messiah. People must cease from their works and enter into God’s true Sabbath-rest by faith in Christ: “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest . . . there remaineth therefore a rest [Gk. sabbatismos] to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.[1] Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb 3-4). According to the New Testament, one who is resting from his works and trusting in Christ has entered the true rest every day of the week, while the SDA who is trusting in his Saturday worship and other works of the law to help earn or maintain salvation is actually rejecting the true rest Christ has purchased for His people![2] Because the Sabbath was a type or shadow fulfilled by Jesus Christ (Gal 4:4-10), the New Testament indicates that churches were no longer keeping it, and they were not to let anyone judge them for not doing so: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ” (Col 2:16-17).[3] If a Jewish convert to Christianity wished to continue to celebrate the Sabbath, the Passover, or any other Jewish festival day in his home, or wished to obey the Jewish dietary laws,[4] that was tolerable, because salvation is by grace through faith alone, not by Sabbath-observance, or any other works. However, none of the festivals was binding in any way on the Christian: “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks” (Rom 14:5-6).
         Since the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ and done away, it is not surprising that the principles of the other nine commandments are repeated in the NT, but the Sabbath is not.[5] Nor is it surprising that there are no examples in the New Testament anywhere of churches meeting for worship specifically on Saturday.[6] On occasion churches would meet every day of the week (Ac 2:47), but apart from such special events, every single example in the NT for church worship was on the first day of the week (Mt 28:8-10; Mr 16:1-2, 10-11; Lu 24:33-34; Jn 20:19-26; Ac 2; 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). “[T]he first day of the week” was “when the disciples came together to break bread” in the Lord’s Supper (Ac 20:7)[7] and when the churches in different areas assembled week by week and took up the monetary “collection” (1 Cor 16:1-2),[8] because the first day of the week, when Christ rose from the grave (Mr 16:9), is the “Lord’s day” (Rev 1:10).[9]
         The idea that the Pope, using the force of the Roman government, changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday at some point after the union of Catholicism with the State, is total nonsense. Bible-believing churches do not say that Sunday is the Sabbath, but that the Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ, and they reject the Pope and his many abominations.[10] Consider the following representative testimony of the very earliest documents of Christian history, written almost immediately after the completion of the NT:
[T]hose who had lived in antiquated practices came to newness of hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath but living in accordance with the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose through him and his death . . . At the dawning of the Lord’s day He arose from the dead. (c. A. D. 107)[11]

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read . . . then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine . . . are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given. . . . Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because . . . Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. (c. A. D. 140)[12]
There were no Popes in A. D. 107, or for centuries afterwards. The pagan Roman government was not conspiring with Popes that did not exist to set up a Roman Catholic church-state with some sort of compulsory Sunday worship. Such ideas are fairy-tales.

Seventh-Day Adventism gets its Saturday worship from the “inspired” visions of Mrs. White, who testified that the fourth commandment was more important than the rest of the ten commandments, and that the pope had changed the Sabbath from Saturday to the first day of the week: “I saw . . . the ten commandments . . . the fourth, the Sabbath commandment . . . shone brighter . . . shone above them all . . . a halo of glory was all around it. . . . I saw that . . . the pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week.[13]The pope has changed the day of rest from the seventh to the first day. . . . He has thought to change the greatest commandment in the Decalogue.”[14] The Pope supposedly did this “[i]n the early part of the fourth century [after] the emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a public festival throughout the Roman Empire. . . . The observance of Sunday . . . [is] a child of the papacy . . . [i]n the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians.”[15] Mrs. White’s visions are why the SDA denomination practice Saturday worship: “In . . . vision . . . [t]here was also shown her the change of the Sabbath, the significance of Sabbath, the significance of Sabbath observance, the work before them [the SDAs] in proclaiming the Sabbath truth . . . [and] its importance and its place in the third angel’s message[.][16] . . . Thus were confirmed by revelation . . . direct revelation . . . the conclusions in regard to the Sabbath[.]”[17] Indeed, one’s salvation or eternal damnation depends not on Christ alone, but on what day of the week he goes to church: “[T]he seal of God is . . . the seventh-day Sabbath[.] . . . The mark of the beast is the opposite of this—the observance of the first day of the week.”[18]Of all who receive this mark, God says, ‘The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone.’”[19]



[1]              Note the reference back to Genesis 2:2-3. God’s resting in Genesis (an event not written down, as far as we know, until Moses’ day), pointed forward to the coming salvation-rest in Christ. What is more, when SDAs argue that the seventh-day Sabbath is a creation ordinance and is therefore binding on the church, they miss the fact that the church is not an institution that pertains to this world and the old creation, but to the new creation, the New Jerusalem and the world to come (cf. Col 3:10; 2 Cor 5:17; Rev 21:1; Tit 3:5 & Mt 19:28).
[2]              For more information on the teaching of Hebrews 3-4 and the Saturday Sabbath, please read “Does Hebrews 4:9 Establish that New Testament Churches Need to Worship on Saturday?” at http://faithsaves.net/seventh-day-adventism-and-saturday-sabbath-keeping/.
[3]              For further proof that this passage specifically indicates that the Saturday Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ, see “Colossians 2:16-17:  The Sabbath Fulfilled in Christ” at http://faithsaves.net/seventh-day-adventism-and-saturday-sabbath-keeping/.
[4]              Note that Mrs. White taught that vegetarianism helps to bring salvation: “Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord . . . flesh will cease to form a part of their diet . . . Those who have received instruction regarding the evils of the use of flesh foods, tea, and coffee . . . will not continue to indulge their appetite . . . a work that will have to be done before His people can stand before Him a perfected people. . . . [M]eat eating . . . endanger[s] the physical, mental, and spiritual health. . . . Even milk will have to be discarded” (pgs. 380-384, Counsels on Diet and Foods, Ellen White). In contrast, God’s Word teaches that being a vegetarian or eating flesh is not a spiritual issue: “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse” (1 Cor 8:6). Indeed, the spiritually “weak eateth herbs” only and thinks that it assists him draw closer to God (Rom 14:2; cf. 1 Cor 10:25; 1Ti 4:4; Tit 1:15; Heb 9:10, 13:9).
[5]              1st Commandment (1 Tim 2:5); 2nd (1 Cor 10:7); 3rd (Jam 5:12); 4th (nowhere); 5th (Eph 6:2); 6th (1 Jn 3:15); 7th (Heb 13:4); 8th (Eph 4:28); 9th (Col 3:9); 10th (Eph 5:3).
[6]              Indeed, the fact that Paul and his company regularly took the opportunity on the Sabbath to go to the synagogues to evangelize unbelieving Jews and Gentiles there (Ac 13:13-14, 44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4) shows that the churches did not meet on Saturday. Godly leaders in the apostolic churches did not skip church week after week to go to synagogues instead. They evangelized in the synagogues on Saturday and assembled for Christian worship on the first day of the week.
[7]              For further examination of Acts 20:7, see “Acts 20:7 and Worship on the First Day of the Week” at http://faithsaves.net/seventh-day-adventism-and-saturday-sabbath-keeping/.
[8]              For further examination of 1 Cor 16:1-2, see “1 Corinthians 16:2 and Church on the First Day of the Week” at http://faithsaves.net/seventh-day-adventism-and-saturday-sabbath-keeping/.
[9]              Considering “every ecclesiastical writer for the first five centuries . . . sabbaton [Sabbath] is never used by them for the first day, [and] Kuriake [the Lord’s Day] is never used by them for the seventh day” (pg. 505, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, John McClintock & James Strong, vol. 5).
[10]            For an examination of the fearful errors of Roman Catholicism, see: “Bible Truths for Catholic Friends” at http://faithsaves.net/different-religions/.
[11]             Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 9:1 & Epistle to the Trallians, ch. 9.
[12]            Apology I:67, Justin Martyr.
[13]             Pg. 32, Early Writings, Ellen White.
[14]             Pg. 65, Early Writings, Ellen White. Mrs. White and the SDA denomination are very reluctant to answer the questions: “Which Pope changed the Sabbath? What was his name, what year did he do this, and where is his decree doing so?” Such questions cannot be answered effectively because Christians worshipped on the first day of the week from the very beginning, far, far before there were any Popes. Consequently, statements about what “the [unnamed] Pope” did in supposedly changing the Sabbath must be left vague.
[15]            Pgs. 52-53, The Great Controversy, Ellen White.
[16]            According to the SDA denomination, Revelation 14:9-11 does not mean exactly what it says, but rather “the third angel . . . represents the people who receive th[e] message . . . [of] embrac[ing] the Sabbath” (pg. 77, Testimonies, vol. 1, Ellen White).
[17]            Letter to Joseph Bates, April 7, 1847, Ellen White;  see Ellen G. White:  Messenger to the Remnant, Arthur L. White.
[18]            Pg. 232, Testimony Treasures, vol. 3, Ellen White.
[19]            “God’s Holy Sabbath,” Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, 1897, Ellen White.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology, pt. 2

At the moment of one's conversion, simultaneous with his justification, someone receives in that instance everything he needs to live the Christian life.  Every genuine believer is a have.  There are no have-nots.  Nothing more is necessary than what he already possesses from that moment on.

In order.

1 Corinthians 1:4-7:

4  I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that ye come behind in no gift

These are the members of the church at Corinth, and they are enriched by Jesus Christ in every thing -- in all utterance, and in all knowledge.  They come behind in no gift.  They do not lack anything spiritually.

Ephesians 1:3:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ

Those in Christ are blessed by God with all spiritual blessings.  All.

Colossians 2:9-10:

 9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. 10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 

In Jesus dwells all the fulness of the Godhead, and since you are in Him; therefore, you are complete in him.  Complete.  Full.  Lacking nothing.

2 Peter 1:1-4:

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Everyone justified has obtained like precious faith.  No believer's faith is different than any one else's. And faith is not quantitative.  You either have it or you don't.  It isn't that at the moment of your justification, you have a faith tank that is at ten out of a hundred and it can move up toward that goal as long as the tank continues to be filled.  No.  The faith tank is full, at one hundred, right at the instance of conversion.  And then His divine power has given unto believers all things that pertain unto life and godliness.  All things.  No thing missing.  Converts are partakers of the divine nature.  The divine nature.

The message of the New Testament isn't that we need more resources of any kind after we are saved.  We have the Holy Spirit, God Himself, indwelling us (Romans 8:9), and God is infinite in every way.  We can't be missing anything if God owns everything and we're in God and God is in us.

If we have everything, if we possess all that we need to be everything we need to be and do all that we need to do, then what is the problem or what is the issue?

It isn't that we don't have what we need.  It is that we must yield what we have to Him.  It's that we hold things back and so we don't experience the blessings that we possess.  We have those blessings, but we don't experience them in our disobedience, our lack of yieldedness to the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the first post of this now two part series, I spoke of the consequences of a higher spiritual plane of existence or greater enduement of the Holy Spirit or more power or revival being the result of begging for it or fasting for it.  You shouldn't be confused by those thoughts, that somehow I mean that you shouldn't pray or fast, even pray for a long period of time or into the night.  The point I made was dealing with doing these things for a consequence of a second blessing.

You don't have to sacrifice to get anything you need to live how you should live.  You have all of that the moment you are converted.  What you need to do is yield to God what you have been given.  Presenting your body a living sacrifice results from the mercies of God (Romans 12:1).  If you read Romans 1-11, you see the completeness of everything that a believer possesses in Christ.

Alright, but if we have everything that we need the moment we're saved, then how can we grow?   Let's consider 2 Peter 3:18:

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Aha.  We need grace and knowledge.  Those things we don't have.  No.  We have both of them.  We grow in the sphere of grace and in the sphere of the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Our growth is in that grace and in that knowledge.  We are already in that grace and knowledge.  So, again, the resources are already there, already available to us.

All the grace comes from God, in whom are believers and believers are in.  The Holy Spirit who indwells believers is the author of scripture.  The growth is within the sphere again of having everything.  Do we need to learn it and do it?  Yes.  But that is, again, yielding. 

Keswick or second blessing says that you've got to keep doing and doing and doing certain things or you won't have available the resources you need for living at the height of your Christian life.

What do these two different approaches, one scriptural and the other unscriptural, look like?  How do they differ?

More to Come

Monday, April 14, 2014

Is It That You're Really Missing Something? Forms of Second Blessing Theology

When I was in college, because of what I heard in chapels, special meetings, and other assemblies, it occurred to me that I might be missing something that I needed to be a success in the Christian life.  Sure I was saved.  That was by grace through faith.  But being saved was not enough to guarantee me success in my Christian life.  For that, I needed more.  Others who had been a success got there because they attained a higher plane of spiritual existence.  They wanted it bad enough.  They prayed for it more.  They worked harder for it.   They sacrificed to obtain it.   It was the secret, and I wanted it too.   Why would anyone settle for mediocrity or mundane or regular, when he could have great or greatest?   What was it?

There are all sorts of descriptions I heard through the years to describe a post-conversion necessity for spiritual success.  Some of them were from the Bible.  I'm not saying they were taught in Scripture, but you could find the verbiage there.  Not necessarily in this order, but I needed "vision."  Without it, the people perish, so if I had it, well, they wouldn't.  I didn't want to be lacking in this, and risk a whole bunch of perishing.

Vision is something you might have if you had "unction."  There was an unction from on high, where you were drawn into some kind of super Christian existence.  There was non-unction Christianity and then there was unction Christianity.  Without unction, you were merely "word only," while with unction, you could be Christianity with "power."  And power meant success.

Power was fresh oil.  It was the "fulness of the Spirit."  It was ability beyond what you could ask or think for spiritual success.

Power is like extra voltage.  You are operating in your Christian life at a certain amperage, but you could increase your amps if you kept asking and asking for it.  And in so doing you could get "revival."  Revival meant that everything was aligned spiritually to channel the blessings of God that you would not have heretofore obtained.

Being saved was like functioning somewhat beyond the normal capacity of your brain.   Post conversion, with this higher level of spirituality, it would be sort of like using a greater amount of your brain, tapping into abilities that you didn't even know you had.  You could see longer, further, higher, and in greater detail.  A whole new world could open up to you.

The idea that I have so far described would say that at the point of your conversion, your justification, you got everything accomplished that would get you to heaven.  If you wanted more, at some point in the future, you needed also to be dedicated.  Sometime after being saved, you could become sold out.  And then the power of the Holy Spirit would flow through you, and you could then see great things happen from God based on the dedication.

Some have portrayed the first step, the one in which you are saved, to be accepting Jesus as Savior.  After accepting Jesus as Savior, you are ready to die, because you would go to heaven.  However, if you want to get the full benefits of your salvation, there is another experience and that is the accepting of Jesus too as Lord at some point in the future.  When you're saved, Jesus is your Savior.  When you are dedicated, which is post conversion, Jesus becomes your Lord.  At the moment of salvation, Jesus is in your life, but at the moment of dedication, you give him a seat on the throne of your life.  When He is on the throne, then you will get the special blessing from God to be greatly used of Him.

When you see someone is really a success, that is, he experiences many professions of faith from the lost or he has a bigger and numerically growing church or when he preaches, the aisles and then the altar is filled up front, that is because he has done what is necessary to receive the "unction."  Others could have it too if they were willing to pay the price.  He has done that, and that's why he's been a success.

What kind of price does it cost to reach this elevated spiritual state?  It's hard to say.  It isn't measurable.  You get your power cord plugged into the source and keep it there until it's obvious that you are fully charged.  The results will tell the story.  You'll start seeing pretty amazing things.  I say pretty amazing, because they won't convince everybody, just enough people to indicate that you've got something that other people don't.  The power you have, sort of like, I don't know, Simon the sorcerer, won't work on everyone.  Why do they work on the ones they do?  I don't know that either.  But they will work better.

Is there any objective, quantitative target to put someone over the top on this?  Not really.  It could take days, months, years, or decades.  You've got to keep trying.  It seems that some never get it, and likely because they didn't have the faith.  They couldn't believe enough.  They can't believe enough.  They'll never be this super Christian and are relegated to perpetual mediocre Christian status.

However, the people who do have it, as seen in their superior numbers and reaction, will say that it took a lot.  They prayed and prayed for it.  Some say that it takes praying to the Holy Spirit.  He wants to be prayed to, and when you pray to Him particularly, you get a better relationship with Him, and then you have better access or possibility of His piling on with the power.  Fasting can help.  Most don't know exactly how much---a week maybe, once a week for the unforeseeable future, or maybe twice a week.  Number of hours in a row of prayer, especially getting into times when you would ordinarily sleep have seemed to be a key to get this.  If you are dead tired from praying, God might favor you with an extra dose of power to get more results and more success.

Everything that I have so far written explains what I have seen to be what is sometimes called "second blessing theology."  It has a historical name in certain instances:  "keswick theology."   In this system, there are two categories of Christians, the spiritual haves and have-nots, the spiritual Christian or the carnal Christian.  By some descriptions, you go through two crosses, the cross of salvation and then the cross of dedication.  Both crosses are necessary to which to come in order to have a supremely successful Christian life.

With second blessing theology, the lack of results or success are essentially because you don't want it bad enough.  Salvation is free, but the second blessing is going to really cost you something.  You'll have to sell out for that.  And if you haven't got it, it's because you haven't sold out.

I understand that what I'm describing might seem close to the Charismatic movement and to Charismatic experiences.  Often, second blessing people talk about God speaking to them or telling them things.  They operate according to these speakings, like they were God talking to them.  God tells them to build buildings, begin special promotions, start outreach campaigns, and what to preach on.

Another name for what I have so far explained is revivalism.  It isn't revival, but revivalism.  Revivalism is a good technical name for it, to differentiate it from its close relation, Charismaticism.  Revivalists very often, if not always, are, like Charismatics, a form of continuationism.  Sign gifts continue today in certain respects, and occurrences of the eras of miracle can also continue today.

I never fully accepted any form of second blessing theology, primarily because it clashed with what I believed from the Bible.  I believed revivalism or keswick theology contradicted a grammatical historical interpretation of scripture.  However, over twenty years ago, I rejected it outright.  Today I view it in all its forms to be one of the most dangerous teachings in Christianity.

Forms of second blessing theology cross over into the fellowship churches.  It doesn't seem to be a deal breaker between churches.  A church that has it will still affiliate with one that doesn't and vice-versa.  Keswick sermons will mix with non-keswick ones.  One passage of scripture will be given two different interpretations:  one revivalist and one not.  They can't both be right, but there is the sense that both are considered to be so.  Does this matter?

I have seen this division among independent Baptists, independent, fundamental Baptists, or even unaffiliated Baptists.  I am pretty sure it is also very common also among Southern Baptists and Bible chuches and other non-denominational evangelical churches.  Should it just be accepted?  Does it matter?

More to Come